On October 13th 2007, Tim Donaghy was arrested at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport as he was about to leave the country. At the time of his arrest, he was due to fly to London, where he was to meet with bookmakers to discuss NBA bets. According to court documents, the 65-year-old entrepreneur was carrying nearly $10,000 in cash and was recorded on airport security cameras making several bets on sporting events, with the majority of the wagers being placed on the New York Knicks.
The following day, authorities searched Donaghy’s Manhattan residence and found $17,200 in cash along with several documents pertaining to sports betting. In addition to the NBA, he was accused of placing wagers on the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, the Masters, and the PGA. The entrepreneur faced up to 10 years in prison and was remanded in custody.
The trial for Donaghy began on September 4th, 2008. The courtroom was packed, as sports fans and betting enthusiasts alike eagerly awaited the verdict. Donaghy was acquitted on all counts. Following the verdict, he issued the following statement:
“It was an expensive mistake, a stupid thing to do, and I’m very happy to be home with my family. The last four years have been very difficult, and it was amazing how many people cared that I was going to be okay. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I love New York and am very grateful to have had this trial and be back home with my family. There are some things you just can’t control. I’ll always be grateful to the fans and their support.”
An Entrepreneur With A Passion For The Game
The son of a schoolteacher, Tim Donaghy grew up in a large, close-knit family. He learned to value honesty and hard work from an early age, and was particularly devoted to the sports he grew up watching. His father took him to his first game when he was just six years old, and the experience stuck with him for the rest of his life.
In 1992, Donaghy founded a company called ThePacker.com, and for the next 10 years, the business grew rapidly, enabling him to purchase several New York City apartments. In 2002, he built the Manhattan headquarters for his company, which he dubbed “The Barn”. The building is famous for its black-and-white checkered flooring, which the entrepreneur designed to resemble the gridiron.
Though he initially tried to shy away from any association with gambling, it was one of the main topics of discussion whenever he gave an interview. In addition to being a passionate sports fan, Donaghy admired the entrepreneurial spirit of those who worked in the sports industry. He believed that anyone with a dream and a willing spirit could succeed in life, and he often said that he hoped his experience would inspire others.
Shortly after his arrest, the entrepreneur began seeing a life coach who helped him develop a game plan for the future. Within a year of completing his program, Donaghy was able to leave jail a different man. He had turned his life around and was determined to live a productive life. He established several businesses, created a platform called “Tim Donaghy’s Tips For Entrepreneurs”, and began offering entrepreneurial workshops around the country.
By 2005, Donaghy’s net worth was around $150 million. In 2007, he was listed by Forbes as the 40th most powerful person in sports. The author of five books, he wrote a regular column for the New York Daily News and was regularly featured on local and national television shows. He also made several appearances on Howard Stern’s Radio Show, where he discussed business and sports. In 2009, after a particularly successful year, his net worth was valued at around $250 million.
The success of his businesses enabled Donaghy to purchase several multi-million-dollar properties, including a 52-room mansion in New York City’s northern Manhattan. He also owns a 35-acre farm in Bedford, New York, where he grows his own vegetables and raises livestock. He spends his free time there working on his tennis game, which he says he is improving on a weekly basis.
While Donaghy’s life seemed to be going smoothly, there were some dark days. In 2009, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which he successfully treated. Since then, he has felt fortunate to have survived such a serious illness. He says his doctors tell him he is now “cancer-free and healthy”.
Asked what he would like to say to fans who supported him during his time in jail, Donaghy responded: “I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart. I don’t deserve any of this. I am a very, very lucky man. I love my fans. This whole experience has been an education for me. I’ve learned so much. I’m a very strong person, and I didn’t let the situation define me. I was determined to beat this thing.”
Donaghy also said he hoped his situation would serve as a warning to potential “gamblers”. He feels that people who gamble should not assume that their good fortune will continue forever. “Just because something happens to you doesn’t mean it’s your lifelong situation,” he said. “You have to be smart about life, because it can always turn around.”
The Fallout From His Arrest
Even people who weren’t directly affected by Donaghy’s betting activities were still shaken by his arrest. His actions were considered to be highly unethical, as bookmaking is a crime in most states. However, it is legal in New York, where he did much of his wagering. Many people found it difficult to understand how a successful businessman could have committed such an offense.
In the aftermath of Donaghy’s arrest, several bookmakers and sports officials launched an investigation into the entrepreneur’s activities. Several of his associates and employees were charged with engaging in illegal bookmaking activities. In April 2010, one of his former employees, Michael Regan, was convicted of participating in a conspiracy to commit sports gambling and was sentenced to three years of probation and 500 hours of community service.
Though Donaghy was able to escape major legal trouble, his experience wasn’t exactly a badge of honor. He says he would rather “own up to [his] mistakes than try to duck the issue”. The entrepreneur continues to support the rights of individuals who suffer from addiction and has founded the Tim Donaghy’s Center For Sports Integrity, which provides financial assistance and support to anyone in the sports industry who comes forward and admits they are battling problems.
In 2016, Donaghy founded the “Tim Donaghy’s Trust”, a charity that provides assistance and support to entrepreneurs, athletes, and music artists. He is also part of a group of wealthy individuals who have established the Sports Integrity Project, which aims to educate the public about the dangers of online betting and gaming.